Episode 384: ‘Is HR Your Friend?’ With Franky Rhodes, People Operations Partner at TravelPerk

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Franky Rhodes, People Operations Partner at TravelPerk, and TikTok star @HRsAgentOfChaos.

Episode 384: ‘Is HR Your Friend?’ With Franky Rhodes, People Operations Partner at TravelPerk

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Franky Rhodes, People Operations Partner at TravelPerk, and TikTok star @HRsAgentOfChaos.

Table of Contents

Jessica Miller-Merrell: What is the worst mistake you see companies make when it comes to DEI initiatives?

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: Not starting. There’s so many layers to, to this. And lack of inclusion has been a massive thing. This isn’t new. It’s just new because there’s more exposure to it on social media and all these other things, especially, again, heightened in the last 3 to 5 years. But I think not starting is the biggest mistake with these internal conversations where employees might have brought this to your attention, that they’re not feeling good about a variety of things and doing absolutely nothing about it.

Episode 384: ‘Is HR Your Friend?’ With Franky Rhodes, People Operations Partner at TravelPerk


Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:05.79] Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not new ideas in the HR and corporate arenas, but in recent months, the importance and significance of DEI in the workplace has gotten leaders throughout corporate America to think about what they’re doing and what the right thing in the workplace looks like. And for that community. And to be honest, we’re falling short still. So it’s important to amplify inclusivity and hold corporate leaders accountable for the lack of it. There are so many ways to do this, and today’s podcast guest is setting the bar pretty high. This podcast is powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses that I offer for certification prep and recertification for HR leaders. But before I introduce our guests, I want to hear from you. Please text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005 to ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. Today I’m joined by Franky “Tank” Rhodes, People Operations Partner at TravelPerk. You may know Tank as @hrsagentofchaos on TikTok. Nearly 40,000 followers strong. Representing HR’s “Black Air Force Energy.” That’s where I found him. He is an HR professional with five+ years of experience with leadership, including People Ops manager at Lola.com and as the Senior HR Associate at Capital One. But you really need to head up his TikTok, where he speaks his mind and holds LinkedIn career coaches and influencers accountable for bad job search advice and with no shame. Tank, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:02:45.39] Thank you very, very much. I’m very excited to be sharing this space with you and I appreciate the opportunity. I want to introduce my co-star for the day as well. This is Samuel Peppers. He got his name because of all of the little freckles all over him. So this is Sam. He might have something to say somewhere down the line during this show.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:08.49] I hope he does. And for those who are just listening to the audio. Sam is a black and white cat feline, so kind of a tuxedo, but he has spots all over him a little bit.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:03:18.42] Yeah. It’s interesting. I’ve never seen a cat that looked like a Dalmatian before.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:24.69] He does. And he’s been, he’s been good so far. So I’m a fan of, of pets. I told you, I have four cats. So.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:03:32.01] Yeah. So, he technically he counts as four. Well, I give them a pass sometimes. Some days he’s two, some days he’s one.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:39.09] Well, hopefully, he can let us get into the podcast and have a great conversation. So, but he can interject where needed for sure.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:03:46.80] For sure.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:48.66] Talk to us a little bit about your career path and what led you to working in human resources.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:03:54.03] Yeah, so I, I spent about 15 years in the retail space and worked my way up through management level and not and somewhere in the middle of that, just interactions I’ve had with teammates, with my managers, with corporate leaders, all of those things. I knew I wanted to do something different. I just didn’t know what it was. And the things that pique my interest about how I built relationships with people, I didn’t know it had a name. I didn’t know there was an arena for it. Fast forward a few years to the end of my retail career in 2018, I had a little bit of a gap as career transitions tend to do to you. And I ended up at this recruiting agency north of Boston for about eight or nine months, and that was kind of where I got my start, just learning how to source, learning all the technical elements of recruiting, learning all the engagement strategies, and just the very, just the fundamentals. And then after that was how I wound up at Lola.com. I was actually recruited into Lola in 2019. So I was there for just over two years, started as their internal recruiter, worked my way up to being a People Ops Manager.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:05:11.88] So all things employee relations, all things benefits, all, all the, all the, all the bells and whistles that, that comes with that. So I did that the last half of my tenure there. We were acquired by Capital One last October and I was there for a little bit as a Senior HR Business Partner. And then I decided I wasn’t ready for that yet. Honestly, it was a little bit more than what I was prepared for. Where I am in my career right now. And I really like the fundamentals of stuff, what language looks like, and how we interpret that language through policy and understanding all of the rules and how to make them work to support people and helping people understand them, which is a huge problem in and of itself. So that’s how I landed at TravelPerk about six months ago tomorrow. So yeah, I’ve been doing that and working as their US HR Representative for the last six months.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:09.81] Very cool. And I think it’s interesting that you made the decision that you didn’t like. I mean, most people would be like Capital One is like, that’s an amazing company, but if it doesn’t support your career, professional or personal goals, it’s okay to, to, to try something new. Nothing wrong with that.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:06:31.59] Absolutely. It’s really important to opportunities will always present themselves if you’re very intentional about where you are at the moment in your career or in your personal space, but also like making sure that the, the way you operate directly impacts another person’s time and quality of life in this space, to be completely honest. And being in a position where you’re miserable or at the very least uncomfortable, the company can be great, the perks can be great. But if it’s not, if it doesn’t sit right with you, that does translate into how you behave and not, you know, the domino effect. From there, it’s really important to be in tune with that about yourself. And make a decision so you’re not you know, from a tactical standpoint, you’re not wasting other people’s time, you’re not wasting payroll doing something you don’t want to do or not good at yet or not interested in. There’s a lot of ways to look at it, but I, I audit my own skill set often. So after, after a little bit of time now I knew it wasn’t my jam, so I made a decision.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:44.20] I think it’s great. I love how transparent you are about all these things when it comes to TikTok. I, the question I have, I think I know the answer to this question, but I want to ask, Is HR our friend? And when I say our I mean employee population. And then should HR be friends with the employee, with those who are doing the work in the workplace?

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:08:11.17] The short answer is no. HR is not your friend. Neither is sales or marketing or engineering or products or data or the C-suite. It’s not ever been in any offer letter any of us have ever received in our working life. That is not a part of our day-to-day. What does need to happen is you build a collaborative relationship, and if something more grows or not, that’s fine. That’s human. We’re cool with that. But the, what irks me about the HR-is-not-your-friend thing is at its core, and some people might not have even thought about it this way. It makes it seem like we failed on our end of a transaction. And what people need to remember is working is transactional. You get an interview, you get the job. That was a transaction. That’s a part of, that’s a process. You perform a series of duties for pay and benefits in return. That is a transaction. People at the very, very, very basic of it is be as good as possible as you can and all the things you put your hands on. After that, how you incorporate that with how you communicate with people and build those professional relationships that can evolve into those things. But I’ll be honest, I, aside from the obvious failures that many of us, myself included, have been on the receiving end of, of a faulty HR process, whether it was a person, whether it was just an infrastructure overall, it’s you didn’t get your way, so you’re not happy about it. So you applied it to a group.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:09:50.89] If, that, and I see this all the time on TikTok, you know, people talk about the marketing space and the, they don’t say marketing is in your friend. It’s phrased differently. I’ve seen it happen just in tech in general. No one is supposed to be your friend. Are we supposed to get along? Yes. Can you develop friendships along the way? Yes. And honestly, I think HR, I think a lot of what we do has been a little too transparent to the point, or too, a little too like hidden, like, where the ninjas. There’s only so much we can talk about. There’s only so many people we can talk to about the things that we engage with. People need to remember that we are also the employee. There is no protecting the company. There’s no sole purpose, right? There’s a lot of different elements in HR and what we’re responsible for. And we, I think we can be better at being transparent about what we do, how we do it, the nuances of that and being visible to the rest of your non-HR team because you’re putting together policy and programs for everyone’s professional growth, which does play a role in their personal growth and being, you being invisible to these people that you’re supporting, how do you really know what they need if you’re not around them? Like that doesn’t make sense to me.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:11:13.69] So I always make it a point to be very visible to my team when I’m in the office and they can pull up on me for literally anything at all. And also building that relationship between HR and everyone else is important when it comes to making sure people understand that regardless of what team are on and what we’re responsible for when we run into a problem. Me saying no to something isn’t necessarily about you or your team. It’s just the thing and it’s, without building that relationship so people understand what we do and how we do it, this particular stereotype will continue. Now, HR has not done a great job of, you know, being better at a lot of stuff we should have been better at decades ago. But this conversation, this version of this conversation has to end at some point. This statement wouldn’t be supported if it was another field that it was a part of. And aside, again, from the, the things that people have had in terms of bad experiences with HR, which is very valid, a lot of them aren’t. And it’s just because you didn’t get your way in a particular thing. And that’s a really tough love way of putting it. But we have to be, we have to be able to look at things from multiple sides and know where to apply certain things.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:36.10] I was kind of taken back when I first really got in on TikTok. It just kind of the responses and. So for those of you who aren’t on TikTok, first of all, get on it. It’s really interesting and it gives you such interesting and new insights into people, particularly younger generations, and understanding how they learn, how they communicate, what they say, what they don’t say, trends, all those things. But I would just post a video and try to be helpful about something and then somebody would be like, You’re a scumbag and say all these things. And at first, I was like, What? Like I’m doing what I think are really good things in the community. But then I have to understand that we’re representative of the entire HR community on TikTok. So they had an experience with someone. I don’t know what that was, and a lot of it is they’re carrying their trauma around and then they see me over here, they see you over here, and then they just kind of like throw it at you.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:13:42.93] They let you have it. And it’s when I, when I first started doing TikTok, that was something I realized I was going to continuously deal with. So I’ve made a few videos, including recently talking about like, Hey, while I have a particular niche that I did not realize was going to become a thing, a lot of us jumped on TikTok because we were bored in the house because of 2020, right? So like I did the same thing and I set the bar of like, All right, I have a particular focus when I talk about these things, but this is my personal page. So if you talk crazy over here, you’re not going to exist on my page anymore. We are people as well, regardless of whether we’ve done the right thing or the wrong thing or somewhere in the middle. This is my TikTok account and I want to have access to the same level of peace you want in your workplace that you didn’t get, which is unfortunate and definitely should not be a thing. Learn how to work through some of those things and, and understand that there are people here in this space who want to change it and improve your life, your livelihood.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:52.38] So I want to ask you a question because you do also talk about on TikTok a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I love. And I think that’s how I first connected with you as I saw the video and I was like, wow, this is and it’s, it’s really profound things that make you think and it can make individuals uncomfortable, which isn’t necessarily bad. So one of the questions I wanted to make sure to ask you is, should HR be responsible for DEI, for company DEI? What do you think? Yes or no? You’re shaking your head. No.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:15:25.89] Absolutely not. The core reason for that is Human Resources has one of the lowest rates of representation. To put this in perspective, for our listener, our listeners, I am a cisgender black male. I’m a relatively decent size human being. I don’t dress the dress. I don’t talk the talk. In terms of corporate lingo, you might hear all of those things. The same way you’re hearing me right now is how I talk everywhere else that I go, including work. And that piece is missing in HR. There’s no one who, I’m the first black HR person I have ever met. I am 34 years old. I have had a job since I was 14 and up until I moved into this space four years ago, four or five years ago, I was the first one, which is something that I didn’t think about until only a year and a half, two years ago. That’s a really long time to be in arenas where no one set the example, right? And that was something that I realized I was going to have to wrestle with immediately. I’ve always gotten the feedback of, you know, you’re too, you’re too passionate. And it’s like, hey, just say I’m too loud and you don’t like it. And you’re not used to seeing someone who looks and behaves like me thrive in a space that predominantly looks more like you. And it’s, it’s insane to me that that conversation was a thing in the first place. Should HR being responsible for DEI? And it’s like, hey, we again as an arena need to look in the mirror.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:17:11.28] There’s no universe we should be responsible for that yet. I think as a people function, we have to start from the inside, just like every other team has to start from the inside and look at what does not just representation and building support systems for that representation look like. In my opinion, the acronym is in the wrong order. You can get the equity and inclusion part, equity and diversity part worked out as you know, as time goes on. If the people you currently have who don’t identify within a majority don’t feel included, you’re not getting the equity part. You’re not getting the diversity part. It’s really important that we understand why DEI is important, how it creates success for business overall. There’s a gratuitous amount of research that’s out there, especially that’s been highlighted in the last three years of the more representation that exists not just in an organization, but within each of these teams in a company. The more successful they tend to be in a lot of areas and the people function being put on blast like that, saying like, all right, well, you know, this is a people problem. So HR and whatever labels they may have for HR and a company is, is the one who’s going to liaise this. That’s reckless. That’s super reckless. I think we play a large role in it. But to say that we should captain, this thing is not rational. It’s not a business decision, let alone all the other elements that go into it. It’s a terrible business decision.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:56.46] I appreciate your opinion here. And you are right. It is mostly white women. I mean, I am the demographic even right down to the age. And that’s one of the reasons why I keep doing this podcast. And I, I am very intentional and certainly I can always improve and we can always improve, but try to bring different voices and people and perspectives in. Because if we’re just in a room with, with everyone who looks like me, we’re not really being inclusive, we’re not doing all those bits and pieces. So if HR is in charge of DEI, I think the first thing you need to do is get a coach or start working with other people, change your circle to make sure that it is inclusive or representative or different so you have perspectives like yours to say, like this is wrong.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:20:00.32] Yeah. And I say this a lot too. One of the bases I decided I wanted to have around the videos I make on TikTok is to remind people of the perspective, especially from a HR perspective, because that’s my arena. It’s a lot of the issues that teams have experienced and individuals have experienced is because of the lack of representation and the one arena that supports people. There is no major differentiation on approach. There’s no major differentiation on how to have a conversation. And, you know, both HR and leadership as a whole, you’re in your own realm, you’re in your comfort zone and growth doesn’t happen in the way you want it to in your comfort zone. So again, you know, I think representation or the lack thereof plays a massive role and people not feeling supported because there’s no diversity and thought and approach and that requires a difference in actual representation and identity.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:05.63] For a long time I thought, oh yeah, I’m, I’m diverse because I’m a woman, but that’s not enough. Like, there’s other layers to two different things. And I think that’s important for us to really explore and, and, and think more about. So I’m not saying that you need to go out and make new friends, but try something new, connect with new people. That’s why TikTok is so great, because you are able to interact with a lot of different kinds of people. You don’t agree with them always. And, but that’s okay. Like, just like that person telling me that I’m a scumbag, all HR, like, it’s their opinion, which is fair, right? It’s. It’s theirs. I can choose what I receive and deflect. But if we do want to be the person who is seen as the people expert, we need to get uncomfortable.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:22:06.41] Absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:07.88] You kind of answered this question a little bit, but I’m going to ask again because why did you start TikTok? I mean, you said you were bored, but, and then why do you keep doing it? Like, why is this an important place for you to be?

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:22:22.46] Yeah, I, it was kind of, the start of it overall was something that I was convinced to do. I hesitated on it because I never dubbed myself in any way, shape or form a content creator. It’s something I’ve entertained in the past and other things that I enjoy in life. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t something that, I actively avoided TikTok. My friends would send me links all the time to watch these hilarious videos. I’m like, This is great, but I’m never going to download this app. Now I have 37,000 followers, and I think in the beginning I just wanted to see what would happen. Again, like most of us. And what I started to realize was as I started to meet other HR TikTokers, again, back to the representation thing, I learned really quickly that the people who do, the majority of the people who create content are not going to look like me, but they are making valiant attempts to point out the indiscrepancies in the topics that they talk about. HR Molly, for example, does a really good job around ADA stuff. Dan does really good stuff around compensation or structure, all the, like, higher-level stuff from an HR VP perspective, and a lot of other things. He was, those two were one of the, were two of the first people to connect with me on TikTok. Manager Method. She does a lot of, I love her, Hey Luke skits. And it’s the day-to-day interaction. These are actual like versions of interactions that HR has with leadership and these insane conversations we have to have sometimes. And they’re equally as hilarious as they are ridiculous in nature.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:24:06.83] So there’s all of these people who have these things. And for me, I wanted to focus on one, this is a really good opportunity to talk about the actual nuance and difficulty of breaking into tech, because you have all these people who say all these things and they have 14 minutes of experience, even in a leadership role or an HR role, and they get in it, they realize that it’s an absolute mess and then they bounce. Valid approach to your personal development, but there’s not enough nuance in those conversations. And we’re setting people up for failure in a lot of ways that you are choosing not to elaborate on. So that’s kind of the first part of it. The next piece is when we talk about things like representation, when we talk about the, the challenges that is layoffs. Right now especially, it’s really easy to fall into different traps. And for me, I would feel terrible if I quit at this point because there are so many people who I am, like, very, very grateful who look up to me. And it’s still something that I am trying to conceptualize and not probably never will, but to know that there is that many people who value my opinion and my viewpoint on just my journey in HR. That’s kind of the core. Like I haven’t been doing it as long as everyone else who I have become great friends with on this app.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:25:38.58] Even them looking to me for things is like an insane thought. So I, I think if I stopped now, I would be letting myself down, mostly because I’ve enjoyed being that, being the Black Air Force energy, the person who’s not afraid to say what needs to be said. Even if I fail at doing a particular thing, it hasn’t been tried yet. An approach hasn’t been tried yet. Conversations about it, maybe in independent corporate settings may have happened, but it’s not, it doesn’t make sense to let this many people feel like they’ll never be supported in a place. And that’s why I even talk about the places I left and why I left them. Because, again, we too are employees and we have to look after ourselves. And it’s very rare, unfortunately, that we don’t have those people who look after us. So that’s why I try to give, I try to keep on the human element that has been missing in this arena. And I think that’s what keeps me going on TikTok.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:40.41] It really reminds me of early Twitter in terms of like just connecting with all the new and exciting people. I have been doing this for a long time. I wrote a book on how to use Twitter in 2009 because I was loving it so much. But you’re just exposed to a large group, not a large group, but a key group of different thinkers and doers and creators in our niche. And they’re supporting and elevating the HR industry in a new and different way. And they’re doing it like one person at a time, which is different than professional associations and other types of communities.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:27:21.24] So yeah, people need our attention and it’s something that has been lacking. And I think the more we talk about that stuff amongst ourselves, the closer we can get to creating a future where people do want to collaborate with us and understand that we’re not your friend on paper, but we need to do it. We will do a better job of having your back, even if it means that tough love of saying no to you for certain things, for a certain number of reasons, that relationship has to get better.

Break: [00:27:53.31] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merlell, and you are listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. Today we’re talking with Franky “Tank” Rhodes, People Operations Manager at TravelPerk. Before we get back to the interview, I want to hear from you. Text “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005 to ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. I’ve been doing this podcast for over eight years, so if you have an idea or suggestion, I really want to hear it.

Break: [00:28:28.56] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access life training, community, and over 100 on-demand courses for that dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more.

The Worst Mistake When It Comes to DEI Initiatives


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:44.61] Let’s get back to, to hearing from, from Tank. So I want to switch gears from TikTok, although we’ll end back up at TikTok here in a minute and talk again about DEI.  What is the worst mistake you see companies make when it comes to DEI initiatives?

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:29:00.72] Not starting. There’s so many layers to, to this. And lack of inclusion has been a massive thing. This isn’t new. It’s just new because there’s more exposure to it on social media and all these other things, especially, again, heightened in the last 3 to 5 years. But I think not starting is the biggest mistake with these internal conversations where employees might have brought this to your attention, that they’re not feeling good about a variety of things and doing absolutely nothing about it, or even being scared to do something about it. And I want to talk about I want to stick on that for a second, too, because practice is the piece of this, I will make this make sense for those who have not had an experience where you are exiled or separated or made to feel any of those things in any space you’ve ever been in. I am an HR professional from 9 to 5. I am black 24/7, right? And when when we talk about the the approach to, okay, how do we start making this make sense for our teammates? It’s one, the mistake of holding a team like ours accountable, solely accountable for creating these things. HR can play the role of auditing something that leaders might come up with in terms of ideas to support their individual teams.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:30:34.21] We can make sure the stuff you’re coming up with obviously is legal and ethical, but you have to start and you have to mess it up a little bit. You have to say the wrong thing. It’s okay to suck at something if you haven’t done it before. I haven’t had to think about it before. That’s, again, human. Once you have information, when you’re trying to solve a problem or anything of the sort, once you have information you didn’t have before, you’re responsible for what you do with it next and how it’s relayed to yourself, to other people, anything in that realm. After that, if you’re not being intentional about creating or at least exploring what a DEI initiative looks like in your organization, it’s willful ignorance. And it simply because there’s, there’s too many resources that exist now for someone to make a decision that this isn’t a priority. It’s what candidates are looking for when they’re looking for new jobs. I’ve had people ask me, this is before COVID and George Floyd and all those things, I’ve had people ask me in interviews, What do these elements look like in a company and how do they execute on those things? I have been fortunate to have answers for those in the spaces that I’ve been in so far.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:31:57.23] A lot of people don’t get that. Whether it’s a lack of understanding on the recruiter or the manager’s stance on how to talk about it, whether it’s candidates, even just being afraid to ask about it, and they end up in a situation that’s not ideal for them. You have to practice. You have to be willful about making things make sense for whatever you want to do next. And you know, the next mistake is. And this all kind of comes together is we, the trend I notice immediately is we went right to looking for the technology that will solve this problem. Technology can support you getting to solutions for these things, but relying on leaving it to survey platforms or leaving it to solely whoever you hire as like a third party coach to talk about these things. It’s just to supplement the work that you actually need to do yourself going straight to a technical solution or deciding it’s one team’s responsibility. Again, amongst all the other lists of reasons, it’s not a great business decision.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:02.73] Thank you for that. I again, I think the more we talk about it, and I, when you say willful like ignorance, I think that’s really powerful. So it’s, it’s no longer “I’d like to have,” it’s “must have.” And if you’re not, it’s an, it’s, you’re, you’re ignoring it on purpose.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:33:24.87] Yeah. There’s too much that exists for us to be like, oh well I didn’t know about that. And if you hadn’t come across that yet in your journey, especially your personal journey, that’s fine. Acknowledge it. You don’t have to state it to the world, but acknowledge it to yourself that you kind of this one up a little bit and, and whatever way you need to need to do, reflect on it, make the adjustments, keep practicing. You do it with sports, you do it with hobbies, you do it with all these other things. Why can’t we do this with the most important thing that exists, which is another living being?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:59.97] Yeah, we are. We are human resources, right? So we’re not feline resources, which, you know.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:34:07.23] We tend to be, we tend to be more often than, than, than we think. But yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:34:14.28] I want to ask you, going back to TikTok, what topic do you get the most engagement over there?

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:34:21.75] Oh, man. I think when I talk about, there’s a number of these, I’ll try to keep it to two or three. The main one is usually whenever I am clapping back at a particular video or topic in regards to either HR or not being your friend, which I’ve reduced a lot. Or talking about elements of someone essentially being, painting themselves as a career coach or a resume writer or all these things and scamming people out of money that they could use for valid sources to get them to the next step. I’ve gone from being aggressive towards a group or a particular person to just saying, All right, here’s a more, here’s a more reasonable way to go about doing these things on your resume or how to have certain conversations. I think the next one, which I find really interesting, I don’t talk a whole lot about benefits on my thing because that’s so nuanced. It’s, that’s like insanely nuanced. But when I do bring up things for people to pay attention to on a broader spectrum, the engagement goes through the roof. And it’s usually the most common response is, Oh, I didn’t know about that. And, that frightens me. Because again, not knowing these people’s situations, they’re not asking questions about benefits. Maybe they don’t know how to ask the questions around what they’re reading, maybe the HR person or the benefits rep, whoever that may be, doesn’t know how to translate what they’re seeing day to day to someone who is on the receiving end of these benefits, which also leads me to believe they don’t know how this thing works for themselves.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:36:11.62] You’re an employee. Like you should know how this works, especially because you’re in that universe. And I think the last thing I get the most engagement on is whenever I talk about an element of representation or lack thereof, sometimes in the HR space, I usually allude to it from a leadership perspective. And it’s interesting to see people’s responses even like, like, it’s gotten to the point where they’re stitch videos. I’ve ended up seeing things on LinkedIn. It’s, it’s, it’s wild to think that we’re all having these very, very, very similar experiences, which goes back to all the other things we’ve talked about up until this point. And as cool as it is to get that engagement because it allows me to go through the comments and go through the stitch videos and interact with people, people who don’t even follow me and they just happen to see it, it gives me more to go on in those three, those three areas. But yeah, I think it’s definitely, it fluctuates between those three. It can get pretty chaotic to keep up with, but it’s fun.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:37:18.85] It is fun to watch. And I, it, it’s so, TikTok is such an interesting place. And I love just watching you and Dan and Molly and others like have these conversations because as you’re practitioners in the trenches, for the most part who are doing the work, my approach is a little bit different because I’m a business owner. And so that’s also interesting to me to see how everybody’s is a little bit different and, and kind of where the like area that they tend to focus on. And it, it doesn’t mean that if yours is different, it isn’t going to work. But there’s a, there’s a new idea every single day. One of my favorites is like creepy stories that are true. I watch these on TikTok all the time. And it’s just I mean, the guy, it’s like a voiceover and it’s a photo of him in a hoodie, like, look like he’s in a basement. Yeah. And I’m like, Wow, these are great. Like, it doesn’t. And I, and I watch them all the time.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:38:19.30] All the time.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:38:20.05] Yeah. So I think that there’s a lot of opportunity on TikTok. I’m getting ready to do a class on TikTok for recruiting in reels because I think that there is really a great way to share your story with potential candidates or those people who are interviewing the job right now.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:38:38.32] Right. Right. Absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:38:40.54] I’m going to put together a list and the transcript of this podcast of, of, you mentioned, Dan, we mentioned Molly, we mentioned Manager Method. Who else off the top of your head.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:38:52.90] CLWill. Chris Williams. Absolutely brilliant approaches to leadership. That’s, that’s his focus and how to engage with leadership and how to be the best leader you can. Oh man, this list goes on. There are some people I haven’t seen in a while. There’s Your Human Resources. Oh, man, Those are like my core. That’s like, that’s my little, that’s my little group. And there’s a gang of them. If you go on any of our TikToks, you can scroll our friends and see all of the people. We usually are tagging each other and stuff. Why am I spacing on her username right now? Farah. She is a recruiter and she shares a lot of perspectives on just what that process looks like. Admin & Eve, who I’ve gotten pretty close with as well, who is a, who is a valid career services and resume writer coach.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:47.42] Approved.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:39:47.48] She’s legit. Don’t, don’t play with her like that. Yeah that list goes on and on and on.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:54.23] I’ll try to put together a little list in the transcript of, of some of them that you have mentioned. So if somebody in HR is like, Hey, I’m interested in just following along, I think a lot of people follow. They like to scroll and see what, what you and others posts, which is totally fine. You don’t have to be on there to create content. You can consume content. Although I would encourage HR people to explore and try. It doesn’t need to be perfect. That’s the beautiful thing about TikTok. It can be the worst raggedy-ass video and it, and it resonates with everyone and it goes crazy. So I have a video of me dancing to a Lizzo song that is really ridiculous. And I think it got, I don’t know how many views, so it doesn’t have to be good.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:40:42.26] Right.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:40:42.65] But it’s fun.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:40:44.54] Oh, People Culture ollective.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:40:46.97] Oh, yes, yes.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:40:48.32] Good. That is the homie. She’s in Australia. Oh my goodness. She is the queen of taking like trending sounds and.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:40:57.32] She does a great job.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:40:57.32] Stuff on TikTok and making it HR relatable and it’s the fucking best.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:41:03.80] I love them. I didn’t even realize she was from Australia.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:41:07.46] Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:41:08.30] Until she was in LA and posted that she was flying home or something and I was like, Oh, okay, cool. I mean, it just connects you to lots of different kinds of people. Well, Frank or Tank, all the things, I’m so thankful for, for having you on the podcast, where can people go to connect with you more?

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:41:28.07] Yeah, like we stated HR’s Agent of Chaos on TikTok, I’m on LinkedIn, HR’s Agent of Chaos. You can search that hashtag. You can search Francis Rhodes. That’s my real name. I’ll pop up. Let me be the first person that pops up. Those are, those are the realms that I hang out in, but I’m mostly on top. That’s the best way to engage with me. If you have questions or want to complain about something or any of those things, it is a safe space. I try to make that a safer space as possible for people so they have somewhere to go to just vent their frustration on an interaction they may have had with or with, with HR or with someone else. So those are my worlds.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:42:14.27] Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.

Franky “Tank” Rhodes: [00:42:18.41] Absolutely. Thank you for the time. Appreciate it.

Closing: [00:42:20.87] I’m a huge fan of Tank’s videos on TikTok and I love what he has to say about being human in HR, being authentic and being able to bring your whole selves to work. I think that’s something we need more of. He talks the talk and walks the walk, and I hope you’ll check him out. HR’s Agent of Chaos on TikTok. I appreciate Tank for talking with us today and sharing his experience. I also want to thank you for joining the Workology Podcast. It’s sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. The Workology Podcast is the podcast for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. And before I go, let me know what you think of this podcast. Send me a text, text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. You can ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. Until next time. Thank you for listening. Visit Workology.com to listen to all our episodes of the Workology Podcast.

Connect with Franky “Tank” Rhodes.



– Franky “Tank” Rhodes on LinkedIn

– Franky “Tank” Rhodes on TikTok

– TravelPerk.com

– @farahsharghi | TikTok

– @dan_from_hr | TikTok

– @yourhumanresource | TikTok

– @peopleculturecollective | TikTok

– @adminandeve | TikTok

– @theclwill | TikTok

– @managermethod | TikTok

– @hr_molly | TikTok

– Episode 336: How AI Tech Can Support DEIA Initiatives With Psychology Researcher, Jeffrey Brown

– Episode 325: Community Building and DEI With Melissa Marshall, VP People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital

– Episode 380: Astrology and Human Resources With Jessica Munson

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